Pepe the Frog, hate symbol exposed


Dusty Hartl, Opinions Editor

The current generation of millennials is obsessed over Internet memes. Recently, however, one joined the list of international hate symbols: that meme is Pepe the Frog.

Pepe the Frog was created in 2005 and has since then become a viral Internet meme. Though, the Anti-Defamation League’s, ADL, chief executive, Jonathan A. Greenblatt, said, “Once again, racists and haters have taken a popular Internet meme and twisted it for their own purposes of spreading bigotry and harassing users.”

The Washington Post said, “While the cartoon frog finds himself among the decidedly dark company of the swastika and the Confederate battle flag, he also finds himself alongside seemingly innocuous symbols on the Hate Symbols Database like “100%” and “737.”

This has left many questioning the justifications of declaring anything a hate symbol.

CNBC said, “the ADL noted that the majority of uses of Pepe the Frog “have been, and continue to be, non-bigoted.” It had also taken on a more sinister side among some social media communities.”

The ADL said, “In recent years, with the growth of the ‘alt right’ segment of the white supremacist movement, a segment that draws some of its support from some of the above-mentioned Internet sites, the number of ‘alt right’ Pepe memes has grown, a tendency exacerbated by the controversial and contentious 2016 presidential election.”

This means that Pepe the Frog was adapted and used as part of a far-right ideology. The “alt right,” according to Wikipedia, “is a segment of right-wing ideologies that reject mainstream conservatism in the United States. It is largely Internet-based and found on websites such as 4chan, where anonymous members create and use Internet memes to express themselves.”

So, the ADL wants to ban a meme because someone down the road might have taken offense to a cartoon frog? This is the society that wants to ensure that we have the freedom of expression and speech.

What is stopping them from adding Gene Wilder or Boromir from being added next? Those memes have been used negatively.

The problem is that we have a generation that is stuck assuming that every cartoon frog, every word, or every action is negative or offensive. This is why it is so hard as a society to move past many of our nation’s issues.

If Pepe the Frog hurt your feelings or offends you, there are bigger problems you should be
worrying about. Instead of thinking about how a cartoon frog affects your life, why not think about how people don’t have electricity in many parts of the world? Or how about the many people who don’t have clean water or food?

This generation wants everyone to be safe and open minded, but not everyone is. Giving attention to this childish cartoon is not contributing positively to an open conversation on hate symbols.

This is added fuel to the fire and giving the right wing extremists a reason to fight back. They will hijack another meme.

Let them use these memes, what is the big deal? Are we so afraid of differing opinions that we will just ban their freedom of expression? It is a two way street that we can not just close and ignore.

Adding Pepe the Frog to the hate symbol list is childish and a waste of time. The meme is not used, largely, by hate groups. It is a meme, let’s treat it like it is.